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Gameday: Hurricanes at Wild

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Hark the Sound!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's cross-conference battle between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes will take the ice at Xcel Energy Center at 11:30 a.m. for their morning skate, and we'll be there to provide rinkside updates.

Last updated: 7:40 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
7:40 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco details tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield three Tools to Victory.

1. Finish Scoring Chances

In the last two games, the Hurricanes have had plenty of chances to score, but against Dallas the timing seemed to be a touch off and in Pittsburgh they just couldn't consistently get to the areas to pick up rebounds or create problems for Matt Murray. Tonight, when the chance is there for a rebound or an odd-man rush, the puck has to find the back of the net.

2. Win Special Teams

It's a fairly simple formula in today's league: score power-play goals and don't give up any. In Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes lost the special teams battle and the game. While the power play has been chipping in (especially when the team gets more than two chances) it's both ends of the special teams spectrum that need to be won. These facets of the game become even more important on the road.

3. Don't Let Emotion Win

Carolina did a fantastic job with its effort Sunday, rebounding from a tough loss Saturday and putting together a solid road game. Tonight, former captain Eric Staal will be honored for playing 1,000 NHL games and will no doubt be fired up to play his old team. The Hurricanes cannot let what should be a well done pregame ceremony take away from starting the game on time, and they certainly can't let their former captain control the outcome of the game.


POTURALSKI TO MAKE NHL DEBUT IN MINNESOTA
5:15 p.m.

Andrew Poturalski is sporting quite the shiner.

Poturalski was cut with a high stick in his last game with the Charlotte Checkers, his right eye now black and blue and a bit swollen as a result.

In a sense, it's the perfect hockey appearance for his National Hockey League debut.

"Maybe they'll mistake me for a tough guy out there," joked Poturalski, who officially measures in at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds.

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BICKELL READY TO MAKE NHL RETURN WITH HURRICANES
4:05 p.m.

Just five months after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Bryan Bickell is ready to make his return to the National Hockey League.

When the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Minnesota Wild in game No. 79, Bickell will dress for the first time since Oct. 30, game No. 8.

"With the circumstances and the rough road that me and my family went through, to get this opportunity with some games left is definitely a blessing," Bickell said. "I didn't know when this day would come, but I'm happy to be here."

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IN THE ROOM: BILL PETERS
2:15 p.m.

Head coach Bill Peters spoke with the media in Minnesota after his team's morning skate.

On Bickell's return to the lineup: "He's going to be excited. He's going to play hard. He's going to come in and fit right in. ... He passes the puck well, he shoots the puck, he's a big body and he can get up and down the ice. I think it's going to be fun."

On potential limitations on Bickell: "Nope. None. I'm just going to put him out and play."

On Poturalski making his NHL debut: "He's playing real well. He played real well on their recent road trip. One of our assistant GMs was there and had real positive feedback on him. ... We've got to make sure we get him enough ice time and an opportunity. Once he settles down and plays, he'll be fine."

On the pregame ceremony honoring Eric Staal: ""That's a great accomplishment for a real good man. Just being a part of the celebration of the 1,000th game will be a lot of fun."


IN THE ROOM: ERIC STAAL
2:10 p.m.

With his old team in town, Eric Staal will be honored with a pregame ceremony for his 1000th game played in the NHL. We caught up with him after the Wild's morning skate.

On getting to 1,000: "It's crazy how fast it goes. You're told that as a young guy from Ron Francis, Rod Brind'Amour, a lot of guys who have played a lot of games. To sit back and reflect now on how fast it's actually gone is pretty crazy."

On Paul Maurice being behind the opposite bench in his 1,000th game: "I was hoping to maybe run into him. He came over earlier and had mentioned to a couple of our trainers that he came by to say hi and congratulations. I thought that was very nice of him. It's pretty funny how the game works and how hockey is. In my first ever NHL game, he's my head coach and now in my 1,000th he's on the opposite bench. I owe a lot to a lot of people who have helped me over my career to get me to this point. It's cool to reflect, remember and recognize those people."

On what's next: "I'm hoping to have a lot more games left. I still feel pretty young. I still feel good. It's cool to reflect. Not a lot of guys make it to 1,000, and that's special for sure."

On tonight's ceremony: "Sometimes it can get a little uncomfortable when so much is built up around you. This is such a great team sport … sometimes you want to just get it over with. At the same time, it's a great memory to have and a great memory to cherish. To be able to do it with my parents, Jordan, my kids, my wife, it's pretty special. I have to remember that and soak it in but be excited for the game because that's what it's all about."

On facing the Hurricanes: "It is different, for sure. I think that will probably stay true for awhile. I haven't played against them a lot, so every time we do, it's definitely a different feeling. You try to focus on your game and what you need to bring to be successful when you get out there when the game starts. They've been on a real good run, and we expect them to compete and play hard tonight."


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
12:35 p.m.

There will be a couple of new faces in the Hurricanes' lineup tonight, with Bryan Bickell playing in his first game since Oct. 30 and Andrew Poturalski making his NHL debut.

Aho-Staal-Teravainen
Nordstrom-Rask-Lindholm
Skinner-Ryan-Stempniak
Bickell-Poturalski-McGinn

Slavin-Pesce
Hanifin-Faulk
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Ward
Lack

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Bryan Bickell back on the ice with the #Canes five months after being diagnosed with MS. pic.twitter.com/GuzTlWdXnT


CANES FACE OFF WITH STAAL, WILD
6:00 a.m.

With less than a week remaining in the 2016-17 regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes are making their first and only visit of the season to Minnesota, where they will square off with Eric Staal and the Wild. It's a game now notable for a few reasons.

One is the obvious: it's the second time this season and third since the trade that the Hurricanes will face their former longtime captain. Prior to the game, Staal will be honored for his 1,000 games played milestone, with 909 of those games coming in a Canes sweater.

Another noteworthy item: Bryan Bickell is set to make his return to the NHL.

The Hurricanes swapped forwards with the Charlotte Checkers on Monday, sending down Lucas Wallmark and Phil Di Giuseppe to join the AHL club for their playoff push and recalling Bryan Bickell and Andrew Poturalski.

Bickell's recall comes just five months after the veteran forward was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He joined the Checkers in late February and tallied a goal and three assists in 10 games. He'll make his return to the NHL tonight when he dresses for the Hurricanes.

Additionally, Poturalski will be making his NHL debut after receiving his first call-up in his first full professional season. The 23-year-old forward, who completed his collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire, leads Checkers skaters this season with 32 assists and 48 points while playing in all 69 of the team's games.

Following a franchise-best 13-game point streak that vaulted the team back into the playoff conversation, the Hurricanes dropped a pair of games on the weekend to Dallas and Pittsburgh, leaving them all but mathematically eliminated.

"Last night was tough," Faulk said after a closely fought 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh, which came less than 24 hours after a disheartening 3-0 loss at home to Dallas. "To come in here against a pretty good team, we're still fighting trying to get every point possible, it was a pretty good effort by the guys. We didn't really sit back too much. We're still trying to play our game."

"A real good effort. We did a real good job. One goal short," head coach Bill Peters said. "Guys played hard, and they've been playing hard for a long time. That won't change moving forward."

Tonight, the Hurricanes go head-to-head with a team that, despite winning just five of their last 18 games, is headed back to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Wild are tracking to finish second in the Central Division between Chicago and St. Louis. Staal ranks second on the team in scoring with 61 points (27g, 34a).

CANESPR NTOES: Justin Faulk set a new record for goals in a season by a Canes defender with his 17th tally on Sunday in Pittsburgh. … Speaking of Faulk, he's approaching (three games shy) of his 400th career game. … The Hurricanes, who lead the season series against the Wild 1-0-0, have not won a set against this team since the 2011-12 season.


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